Dobyns-Bennett (2-5 overall, 1-2 in Region 1-6) loves the power running game. Star back Ian Hicks churned out 284 yards last Friday at Farragut. Hardin Valley (4-3, 2-1) uses a 4-4 base defense and is committed to stopping the run.
The team which is more determined could come out on top and put itself in better position for the upcoming TSSAA playoffs.
“They’re going to do everything they can to stop your run, and they’re athletic enough on the back end to cover you,” D-B coach Joey Christian said. “They’re strong all the way across. All their down linemen, their linebackers and secondary players are all strong. You see how their tackles are spread out.”
Linebacker Luke DeFur leads the Hawks with 60 tackles, followed by lineman Jaylen Moore with 57 and Loch Hardin with 52.
Still, there is hope for the Indians to move the ball offensively looking at last week’s results. Science Hill running back Chris Thomas had 217 yards in the Hilltoppers’ 17-3 win over the Hawks. This also appears to be a game in which the Indians’ passing game with quarterback Lendon Redwine could get back on track.
“We are planning on opening up the passing game more,” Christian said. “We hope to have a little more opportunity in the passing game, but we will see how they play us.”
No disrespect to Hardin Valley, but the final third of the Indians’ schedule appears to be much easier than previous weeks facing such opponents as Alcoa, Farragut and Greeneville. The five losses have come against teams with a combined 34-2 record.
DeFur is also one of the Hawks’ leading offensive players. Lining up at wide receiver and other times at tight end, he has 17 catches for 200 yards. Cartez Campbell is another two-way player, making 13 catches for 160 yards as a receiver and making 44 tackles on defense.
Other players the Indians must stop are dual-threat quarterback Grayson Vaughn, who has completed 70 of 138 passes with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. Vaughn also has 59 rushes for 234 yards.
“Grayson Vaughn does a really good job throwing it around, but he does a good job running too,” Christian said. “He’s dangerous with his arm and feet.”
Kelton Gunn is Hardin Valley’s leading rusher with 67 carries for 434 yards and four touchdowns. He’s an elusive back at 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds. The Tribe defense hopes to be up to the task. The Indians gave up 310 rushing yards against Farragut, but just 73 yards the previous week against Bearden.
Despite the tough losses recently, the Indians have been able to maintain a positive attitude. Even in the moments after the Farragut loss, the players were ready to get back to work.
“We have three games ahead of us and we have to look at the positives,” Christian said. “We didn’t put the ball in the end zone enough against Farragut, so obviously we had to do a better job. But we’ve focused on the next task at hand. We have great kids and there is no quit in them.”